“Your parents were not incorrect”

“Your parents were not incorrect” September 15, 2011

I received an anonymous comment today on the last segment of my story from an evangelical desirous of explaining to me that my parents acted rationally and not wrongly when I began to question their beliefs, and that I need to realize that they are acting out of love in what they do. I appreciate the comment, but there was an inference was that I shouldn’t be upset because of what happened or speak out against these beliefs because it’s just another “world view” and I need to respect that. Because I thought the comment was interesting, I have decided to respond here (as well as on the thread where it appeared):

To prelude the rest of my comment, I want to start off by saying I am a male evangelical Christian. I am posting because your story has struck a cord with me. I’ve struggled with how I want to respond here, so please bear with me.

Thank you for stopping by! I really do appreciate it when people who disagree with what I say leave thoughtful, respectful comments like yours. I’m all for an exchange of ideas.

I don’t think you can educate a child, live with a child, raise a child – without indoctrinating them to your world-views. While I don’t agree with humanism (I’m on the fence about feminism). I respect that it’s your right to teach your children your views, just as I think your parents shouldn’t have been prevented from raising you as they did.

I’m going to have to disagree with you on some of this. My parents saw passing on their exact views to their kids as incredibly important, but I honestly don’t feel that way at all. I’m going to let my daughter choose her own beliefs. She’s her own independent person. So, not everyone “indoctrinates” their kids. In fact, as a rule, I think that the more strongly someone believes in the possibility of hell, the harder they will work to indoctrinate their children. This is one of the many, many problems I have with the idea of hell – it makes parents willing to do anything they have to do to make their children share their exact beliefs, regardless of what the child wants and regardless of the consequences of family harmony.

As for my parents having the right to raise us as they did, I am not questioning that. I’m merely questioning the wisdom of some of their methods of child raising. I agree that they have a right to raise their children as they see fit (absent blatant abuse, of course), but that does not preclude me from speaking out against beliefs and practices and child rearing manuals I see as harmful. That’s all I’m doing here.  

I think your parents were not incorrect, or acted unnaturally to react they way they did. In the Christian world-view rejecting Christ is the same as death. Keeping your siblings away from you was not a way to hurt you, but a way to keep your siblings “safe”. (please forgive me if I misconstrued humanism for the rejection of God if it is not the case). The fact that you had the right to reject them, the fact that you still have a relationship with them (even though it has changed due to your rejection of them). means they have not rejected you. The fact that they are trying to change your husband (despite how misguided you perceive it to be). They are still trying to save you. I think it’s important to note that they still obviously care.

I understand that my parents were reacting rationally within their beliefs. I don’t blame them, but I do blame the beliefs. You have to remember that my parents weren’t just evangelicals. They reacted the way they did not simply because I was leaving some of their beliefs (at the time, I was only questioning a few things, such as young earth creationism, not religion in general), but rather because they followed Christian Patriarchy and therefore believed that I, as an unmarried adult daughter, was supposed to submit to my father and obey him. If they had, like most evangelicals, believed that daughters grow up and become independent, and had focused on praying that God would guide me back to the correct path rather than thinking they were supposed to be the ones to do that, my relationship with them would not be as broken as it is today. This is why I speak out against what I see as problematic beliefs, beliefs that cause harm and tear families apart.

This is really a nitpick, but I never “rejected” my parents. Rather, I rejected some of their beliefs. They might see those two as the same, but I really don’t. They then turned heaven and earth to get me to agree with them again, and in the end I left home to live my own life. I never rejected them. I simply disagreed with them. And my disagreement made them consider cutting me off from my siblings, though in the end they thankfully chose not to. I see any belief system that supports putting beliefs above people as highly problematic, and I see this as a major problem with the way my parents see the world – it’s almost as if my beliefs mattered more than I did as their daughter. This tears families apart when they should be able to agree to disagree.

Lastly, I wanted to say I don’t view my wife as a subordinate. I don’t view men as superior to woman. I view the spiritual headship of men the same way that the Levites were selected as the bearers of the ark of the covenant. It was role selected by God. The Levites were better than the rest of the 12 tribes, but were selected for the Role. I don’t have any delusions that woman are less than men. (in fact, as a married man, I know I’m wrong 99% of the time).

I understand that you may not see your wife as subordinate, but any time you evoke spiritual headship or male leadership, that’s not equality. I was never taught that women were “subordinate” either, simply that women have different roles than men: men are to lead, and women to submit to that leadership. Again, that’s not equality.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is: Homeschooling is no more indoctrinating than public school would be.

I disagree. Homeschooling IS more indoctrinating than public school, because homeschooling gives parents the ability to completely control what information their children should be exposed to while public schooling exposes children to a greater variety of ideas, information, and people. You can’t shelter (aka isolate) a kid sent to public school the way you can a kid who is homeschooled.

Christianity is a differing worldview, and and it’s not any less wrong than other world views.

I understand that Christianity is a differing worldview. I have taken religious studies in college. However, not every world view can be correct, especially when so many contradict, and I have become fairly convinced that Christianity is wrong, and indeed that any world view that includes the supernatural is wrong. Additionally, some world views cause a lot more harm than others, and I therefore don’t privilege all worldviews equally and I actively speak out against some – such as the one in which I was raised.

People who believe differently are not monsters or crazy, or ignorant.

I am aware that people who believe differently from me are not monsters, crazy, or ignorant. I used to believe differently myself. My parents were in many ways wonderful parents, and that’s why I speak against the specific beliefs that resulted in harm and hurt. I used to share my parents’ beliefs, so I understand how they see things and why they do what they do. I’m not judging them, I just happen to think that the beliefs that they hold and the way they see the world is highly problematic and even harmful. It is these beliefs I speak out against, not my parents themselves.

One more note. Your comment sounded like you had probably only read My Story. In my other posts I outline specific problems I see with Christian Patriarchy. The problems go beyond my parents’ response to my questioning of their beliefs.

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